Is Laser Tattoo Removal More Effective on Lighter Skinned Individuals?

So i recently (3 months ago) got a tattoo & now im looking to remove it as it was a deep mistake. im a hispanic woman with generally a lighter toned skin color & ive been known to scar easily but the scars usually fade over time, about 2 years but it still leaves some sort of marking if you really take the time to look when direct light is hitting my skin. if the cut/marking is really deep then it takes longer.

Doctor Answers 5

Laser Tattoo Removal For Different Skin Tones

Lasers can effectively remove tattoos on any skin tone. However with older models, safety was a concern for patients of color with darker skin. Laser light has to be absorbed by pigment in the skin. It is not only absorbed by tattoo ink pigments, it is also absorbed by melanin. Individuals with darker skin obviously have more melanin. They will absorb more light than people with lighter skin. And this will cause the dermis to overheat.

A laser called the Nd:YAG Q-Switched laser uses a light wave that is 1064 nm long. This light wave is not readily absorbed by melanin. So it is safe for any skin tone.  It is also very effective for multi-colored tattoos. Just for your own knowledge, black tattoos are the easiest to remove. The color black absorbs all wavelengths of light. Therefore it is broken up a lot easier in your skin. Your body then treats these ink particles as waste and removes them from your system. However this takes several weeks.

Redondo Beach Dermatologic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Laser Tattoo removal safe

Laser tattoo removal is effective in safe in virtually all skin types IF you consult with an experienced laser physician who uses the proper device for your tattoo.  The Q-switched Nd:Yag laser is the best laser for your tattoo and skin type, and with a proper series of treatments you should get an excellent result with minimal risk of permanent pigmentary change or scar.

Jeffrey C. Poole, MD
Metairie Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Tattoo Removal

For a black tattoo in a Hispanic patient, I would recommend the Q-switched Nd:YAG laser (1064 nm) which has a lower affinity for melanin in the skin and therefore is less likely to injure the skin.   In general, lighter skin has a lower risk for pigmentary change or scarring because there is less potential for skin injury from the laser.   It is important to avoid sun exposure before and after the laser treatment.

Richard Ort, MD
Lone Tree Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Laser Removal of Tattoos

Tattoo removal by laser can be done on any skin type. However for those who are lighter, usually there is less scabbing after a treatment and one can expect less treatments to be needed.

Good luck. Just plan on giving it a year or so to see the final results.

T. Wayne Day, MD
Nashville Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Laser Tattoo Removal and Skin Tone

Thank you for the question and picture.

I think that laser tattoo removal is most effective for lighter skin tone  patients.  These patients are less likely to demonstrate hypo-or hyper pigmentation after the treatments. I do tell all my patients however that despite optimal laser treatment,  if they look close enough they will know that a tattoo had once been there. Of course the  evidence of a previous tattoo does fade with time.

I hope this helps.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,486 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.